Today I asked myself, where are the old gods?
Well, simply, they became the angels and daimons of the One God.
The ancient deities were local and the people integrated them into their reality.
The mind plus culture and env makes reality.
They thought very differently than we do.
They had a way of life that worked for them and they were deeply integrated with an imaginal world.
As the monotheist religions took hold they integrated the local spirits.
The old gods are alive and well here now.
Esotericism is an intersection of art and philosophy.
Ritualizing life in a certain direction is a powerful experience.
If you do not set a direction, all the brush strokes of the masterpiece are lost in false starts.
The old ways and gods are alive in the pagan sects.
One reason many have gone back to the old ways is to find a solution to the dead end we find ourselves in.
I have made little alters in my home that I use to maintain my connection to the imaginal world.
Soon after my psychedelic tea experiences, the connection to the imaginal world was very intense. It felt as real as the material world. That is something to consider. But I have let my creativity wane. And so my connection to imaginal world is less intense.
At full intensity you almost cant tell a difference between the material and imaginal. There you will find shangrila. There are many portals that can give you short trips there, but you yourself are the wardrobe that contains the gate to this land of pure consciousness.
A literal virtual reality populated by all our gods, monsters and myths hopes and fears.
You can add the UFO experiences to this fairyland I’m sure. Is Barfield’s and Corbin’s imaginary world the gateway higher dimensions?
So every religion is true in a way, symbols from the imaginal realm.
“One of the things that comes from esotericism is a view of “reality” which is not dualistic. When the average rationalist thinker considers “reality,” he will likely break it into “real” and “unreal.” Similarly, if he is a religious believer of some sort, he will break reality into “physical” and “spiritual.” Horses are real, Pegasus is unreal. Dogs are physical, angels are spiritual. Reality conveniently fits into these pairs of dualisms. Or does it? What if there were another layer of reality which was neither real nor unreal?
The French scholar of mystical Islam, Henri Corbin (mid-20th century) gave this layer of reality the name “imaginal world.” It is originally a Neo-Platonic concept, which was adopted by the Sufis. Plato imagined a world of pure archetypes, where the ideal perfect prototypes of all objects reside. The esoteric Sufis conceived of a middle world, between the mundane world of stones and soup and the Platonic world of pure concepts and ideals like Love, Truth, and Goodness. In this middle world, the “imaginal” world, reside all the things which are mythical, which are the product of human imagination, and things which are the echoes of our “real” world seen in dreams or art. In the imaginal world, all these things are as real as things in the real world. There are dragons and damsels, spaceships and wizards, peaceful utopias and hellish dystopias. There are cities of crystal and cities of monsters, golden apples and laughing cats. All these things and more are in the Imaginal World. And the gateway to this world is human creativity and human imagination. This is how we reach it, and this is how we navigate through it.
Are there things in the Imaginal World which people have NOT made up? The believers say, probably. The demons and the hells of torment, the paradises and the angels of delight, may reside here, as well as the saints, heroes, and villains of legend. There are places both terrifying and joyous, beings malevolent and gracious – and every moral shade in between. Sherlock Holmes lives here, and so does Dracula. Helen of Troy visits with Faust again; Humpty Dumpty gets put back together. There are infinite possibilities here, and it is just as possible that explorers of the Imaginal World are discovering things, as it is that they are making things up. Or so a believer would say. To old-fashioned rationalists, the Imaginal World is just another name for “silly fairy-tales,” “fabricated myth,” or “delusions,” or “hallucinations.” But in our modern age, we have yet another name for this Imaginal World: “virtual reality.”
We are just beginning to understand how computer technology and the Atlantean Internet are changing our lives. “Virtual reality” twenty years ago was something out of science fiction. Now it is something we do every day, if we have that vital connection. We encounter images, people, things on our screens which we give a reality to without actual evidence that they are real. Video games give us a dazzlingly rendered illusion not only of entering another world but actually acting inside it. The screen has become our gateway to an electronically created Imaginal World. Quite a number of authors have already made the connection between the esotericists’ imaginal world, the occultists’ “astral plane” (basically the same concept) and the virtual reality of a computer network. It is becoming harder and harder to be an old-fashioned rationalist dualist – though there are still plenty of them to be found.
To me, this is the best answer to where the old gods have gone. They are not theatrical spirits, who are only present when there’s an audience to believe in them. Nor are they necessarily Divine Beings with the all-encompassing status of the monotheists’ One True God. They are imaginal beings, who live in this middle world. And the Imaginal World is not a dreamworld dependent on the whims of one person; it is a shared multicultural universe, springing and flowering from the ground of millions of human beings and their minds and their creativity. Once the image, the poem, the character, the myth, the mathematical theorem, the story, the song, the magic, has been created, and has been set down in writing or in a computer file or in any other medium that can be communicated, it has left the confines of one person and entered the Imaginal – or the cultural world.
The question remains: is this Imaginal World dependent on the existence of humanity for its own existence? If by some cosmic or human disaster, all human beings were wiped out, would this Imaginal World also disappear, like a projection of light onto dissipating clouds? It’s possible. But I’d like to think that it wouldn’t – that what has been thought and invented will go on in this imaginal world, to be picked up by the next sentient creatures who come along and have the imagination to get there. This could happen because somehow we were able to leave records of our culture behind which could be recovered. Or in a more mystical sense, it could live on because imagination reaches a layer of reality which is filled with information that is not dependent on human existence, a cosmic library ready to read.
For now, the Imaginal World is based in culture and its communications media, and from there, in the minds of anyone here who has imagination. The gods live here. This is why fanatical fundamentalist monotheists try to censor culture and Imaginal gateways like books, movies, websites, storytellers. They know that the gods their God hates are still alive. Of course there is indeed a dark side to the Imaginal World, and many a dreamer has been drawn in to ruin; you have to be as cautious in the Imaginal World as you are in the real one, perhaps more so. But here is where the secret temples are, the “ineradicable cultural objects” that not even the might of the One True God can stamp out. Do you want to meet the forgotten gods? Have tea with Zeus and Apollo? Here are the directions: the Word, the Image, the Sound, the Creative Imagination, and then the recounting. Don’t forget to tell us, however you can set it down, where you’ve been, and how Athena’s been doing these last two thousand years.“
I have given my account as best I could.
My brief journeys into that land have led me to great wisdom and a new way of seeing the world.
I think I just remembered what I always knew or brought it into conscious light through ritual imaginal acts.
That’s how you can meet anyone by the camp fire.
Barfield said that being creative means striking out in new directions and not accepting ready-made relationships, which takes stamina and a willingness to be alone for awhile.
It has been a lonely road, but I see why it has to be.
No one can walk your path.
We all have to figure out our own life.
A creative life is most authentic to me.